11/22/2013 6:18:00 AM Teaching winery set to open fall 2014
The Tuesday groundbreaking ceremony for the teaching winery at Yavapai College took place next to the vineyard where students learn to grow grapes. Winemaker and Tool frontman Maynard Keenan and Viticulture Director and Jerome Mayor Nikki Check.VVN/Yvonne Gonzalez
City officials and members of the Arizona wine industry broke ground Tuesday on the teaching winery at Yavapai College.
CLARKDALE - City officials and wine aficionados broke ground Tuesday on what is now the four squares of a racquetball court, but will soon house a $1.9 million teaching winery at Yavapai College.
Starting fall 2014, students are going to ferment, age and market the grapes harvested from the 6 planted acres of vineyard that sit next to the new facility.
Yavapai College is starting construction on this facility having raised more than a third of the school's total goal of $2.7 million, said Linda Buchanan of the Yavapai College Foundation.
"It might take a village to raise a child, but it takes a Valley to raise a teaching winery," Buchanan said.
The facility will cost $1.9 million to construct, with equipment expected to cost an additional $300,000.
"We have a state-of-the-art facility to outfit, and a rapidly growing industry to support in workforce development," Buchanan said.
The foundation has been holding fundraisers like the Art, Wine & Dine Gala, which was sold out this year, and accepting donations from private donors to reach its goal. About 100 people have met the $5,000 donation benchmark for commemoration on the wine center's Founders Wall.
FCI Constructors, Inc., a Colorado company that opened its Phoenix office in 1987, was awarded the construction contract for the Southwest Wine Center within 24 hours of the groundbreaking ceremony, Buchanan said.
Members of the wine industry spoke to the crowd of less than 125 people who turnout out for the event. Winemaker and Tool frontman Maynard Keenan was in the crowd, and dug a gold-tipped shovel into the dirt for photographers after the event.
Many of the speakers cited economic and workforce development as benefits of the viticulture and enology programs at Yavapai College.
Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lana Tolleson presented the school with $8,000 raised through the second painted barrel auction held to support the viticulture program.
Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens said collaboration was key to the wine industry's growth in the Verde Valley, and Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig said some local wines are now on par with European vintages.
Von Gausig said successful viticulture and enology programs at Yavapai College would stimulate tourism and wine sales in the area.
"There is an expected future impact and potential of this for the whole Verde Valley," he said.